The da Vinci Robot

Originally created to fulfil an order from the American Army to operate soldiers remotely, the da Vinci® robot is nevertheless not an autonomous system. In fact, this piece of equipment can neither be programmed not make decisions. Every surgical manoeuvre is driven by the surgeon who is comfortably installed in the operating theatre managing the machine’s controls.

How does it work?

The da Vinci® surgical robot consists of two parts.

The first is a robot positioned above the patient. This is equipped with four operating arms with surgical instruments on the end. These articulated arms are carefully protected from a sterile point of view as they are in contact with the patient who is under general anaesthetic. They are put in place before the intervention in order to allow access to the instruments used by the surgeon: micro pincers, scissors, needle-holders, etc…

The second part is a console, or sometimes a double console, located away from the patient. It is here that the surgeon sits and operates the surgical instruments using the controls. The robot only does what the surgeon tells it and reproduces the movements of the console operator with its arms.

The surgeon is in control of the entire intervention. He directs the camera, manages the instruments, adjusts the clarity, coagulates, etc….

Always positioned next to the patient, the assistant surgeon holds other instruments and helps the main operator. His role is to pass thread, help extract tissue removed, close off the vessels, change the da Vinci® instruments, etc. This is an essential role and he has to know exactly how the intervention will take place in order to anticipate its movements. The instrument assistant has to be close to both the robot and the assistant.

What about the 3D vision?

The camera is installed on the fourth arm and makes it possible to zoom at any time. The fact that the surgeon can direct the camera himself is an advantage compared to laparoscopy where the assistant needs to move the camera, at the risk of not always being in sync with the operator. The fact that there are two cameras provides the surgeon with 3D vision through a stereo view, with each eye receiving a slightly misaligned image in the console.

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